T. Boone Pickens wants to build the largest wind farm in the world. You might assume that with a name like T. Boone Pickens, this guy would be some kind of oil tycoon. Funny thing is, you’d totally be right.
You know wind power has made it big when Texas oil moguls start getting into the business. And, of course, everything is bigger in Texas.
Pickens’ wind project will stretch over 200,000 acres in four Texas panhandle counties and produce over 4000 megawatts of power…enough to power around one million homes.
Of course, these plans don’t always become reality, but the prospect of a four gigawatt $6 billion solar plant is pretty freakin’ exciting. If approved, the plant would begin construction in 2010. And that may be the first time in my life saying "Thanks" to an oil tycoon.
Mazda’s new Miller-cycle engine will power the new Mazda2, (named the Demio for the US).
Mazda Motor Corporation has developed a new, naturally
aspirated 1.3-liter Miller-cycle gasoline engine, which will power the all-new Mazda2
when it goes on sale in Japan
in July 2007. The Miller-cycle engine
usually depends on having a really big super charger but Mazda has figured out
a way to use the Miller-cycle on a normally aspirated engine.
The Miller-cycle is a fancy name for a simple change in the
valve timing for an engine. It allows
the compression stroke of a 4-cycle engine to begin later than typical. Less power wasted on compression means more
In combination with MazdaÂ’s first continuously variable
transmission (CVT), the engine enables the new Mazda2 to offer 54 mpg US, an
improvement of approximately 20% compared with MazdaÂ’s current 1.3-liter
In addition to the new powertrain, the all-new Mazda2 has
been made approximately 220 lb lighter than its predecessor through a strict weight
reduction program, which results in quick handling to go along with the
significantly improved fuel economy.
can see no reason that the Miller-cycle engine can’t be used to improve
the efficiency of larger engines and/or engines in hybrids. I wonder
what the carbon footprint of a Miller-cycle hybrid car running on
cellulosic ethanol would be?
Via Green Car Congress
Once while traveling through the southern US I saw a DIY solar hot
water heater made from an old Chevy, that was up on blocks, painted
black and the proud owner had run 200 feet of garden hose through the
interior. It provided enough heat for his family to shower he said.
the "Weird Asia News" blog we get the story of a man who made his
family a solar hot water heater from 66 recycled beer bottles. He
should have called, I could have helped him empty the bottles.
Weird Asia News:
A Chinese farmer has made his own solar-powered water heater out of beer bottles and hose pipes.
Â“I invented this for my mother. I wanted her to shower comfortably,Â” says Ma Yanjun, of Qiqiao village, Shaanxi province.
MaÂ’s invention features 66 beer bottles attached to a board. The
bottles are connected to each other so that water flows through them.
Sunlight heats the water as is passes slowly through the bottles
before flowing into the bathroom as hot water, reports China Economy
Ma says it provides enough hot water for all three members of his family to have a shower every day.
And more than 10 families in the village have already followed suit and installed their own versions of MaÂ’s invention.
Via: BoingBoing, Wierd Asia News
Henry Liu, a retired civil engineer, has won the Popular Science 2007 Invention Award for producing a replacement for the more than 9 billion clay bricks manufactured in the US each year. Manufactured from fly ash,
a byproduct of coal combustion with a worldwide surplus production
running in the hundreds of millions of tons each year, these new bricks
are as strong and safe as the bricks we’re all used to seeing, cost 20%
less to make, and are far more environmentally friendly.
‘n’ Busted: clay bricks are fired in a kiln at over 2000Â°F (1100Â°C).
New Hotness: Liu’s new building material is cured in a 150Â°F (66Â°C)
steam bath after exiting a 4000 psi (28,000 kPa) press, saving massive
amounts of energy and reducing the carbon footprint for builders
considerably. In addition, the new bricks are easier to use which will
save bricklayers time, and homebuilders money. To top it all off, the
bricks may also improve air quality.
Having recently passed federal safety standards in the US, Liu will begin licensing his technology to manufacturers in 2008.
The start-up biofuels company LS9, of San Carlos, CA,
is using Â“synthetic biologyÂ” to engineer bacteria that can make hydrocarbons
for gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. Their goal is to create designer bugs that produce and excrete
hydrocarbons. LS9 Renewable Petroleum biofuel will be clean burning, carbon neutral,
and has the potential to provide for a large portion of our long term energy needs.
diverse agricultural feedstocks, these new fuels will be
compatible with current distribution and consumer infrastructure –
unlike ethanol. The production process is also much simpler than
producing conventional ethanol, and requires 65% less
energy: while ethanol needs
to be distilled at high temperatures, Renewable Petroleum gently floats
to the surface of the reaction vats in which it’s produced.
The company has $5 million in funding from Khosla Ventures, the
venture capital firm of Vinod
Khosla, founder of Sun Microsystems and passionate biofuel evangelizist. LS9 CEO Noubar Afeyan cautions that no one can
tell the extent to which any biofuel will displace fossil fuels. "That is
a subject of great debate and great prognostication," he says. "The
opportunity is so large that I don’t have to believe in much more than a few
percentage points of market penetration for it to be worth our investment."
If all goes to plan, LS9 fuels may be available as early as 2011.
Via: Technology Review
The Holy See will be adopting solar panels many of its buildings, in accordance with the wishes of Pope Benedict XVI who has "concern about conserving
the Earth’s resources". First in line is the Pope Paul VI auditorium, which seats 6,300 people.
"The roof of the Paul VI auditorium will be redone next year, with its cement panels replaced with photovoltaic cells to convert sunlight into electricity," engineer Pier Carlo Cuscianna said.
The integrated PV cells will provide enough electrical power to provide illumination and temperature control for the auditorium. When not in use, excess power will be fed into the Vatican’s grid.
While Dell has received a fair amount of attention for their green work, HP has been taking steps of its own. HP just released the RP5700 desktop PC and achieved the EPEAT’s first Gold rating. EPEAT is a rating system run by the Green Electronics Council that evaluates the environmental impact of computers, notebooks and monitors. Think of it as LEED certification for computers.
So far 12 desktops have achieved Bronze, 70 have Silver and now HP has the only Gold. The Gold standard requires products to meet the minimum requirements and 75% of optional criteria. HP took the biggest initiatives in the areas of "reduction/elimination of environmentally sensitive materials" and "Design for end of life", which includes eliminating use of PVC and other toxic materials and a minimum of 90% recyclability or reusability.
With the government backing the EPEAT, requiring 95% of government electronic purchase to be recognized under this system, hopefully consumers will follow suit and look for computers that are greener. More optimistically, I hope other manufacturers get jealous enough to start making some Gold standard computers themselves.
Travel 130 miles for $3 in an SUV? Yes you can… Altairnano has achieved it with an electric SUV presented directly to their shareholders. The company partnered with Phoenix Motorcars to create the SUV, called the Phoenix, using Altairnano’s batteries, which can recharge in as little as 10 minutes.
They plan to target fleet use first until recharging stations become more common. However they already are in talks with Pacific Gas & Electric to create a network of charge stations that would allow users to "top off batteries during a coffee stop." While at home, 220 volt outlets commonly used for clothes dryers or stoves allow a charge in around five hours.
We reported on Altairnano’s batteries being used in the ZAP-X and it looks like they are trying to get out vehicles of their own. Either way, lets get some of these on the road, or at least one for me to drive.
Video after the jump
Americans throw away over 125 million cell phones per year. Even more strange, we have over 500 million retired cell phones sitting around our homes awaiting disposal.
This not only is an expensive and wasteful habit, it represents an avalanche of e-waste which will hit our landfills sometime soon when we collectively realize its time for spring cleaning. Cell phones are complex assemblies containing the toxic metals lead, cadmium and berillyum plus a fire retardant that actually may retard the user.
So the question becomes, when these little buggers go on the fritz, what do we do? Search out the nearest trashcan? Or try and save ourselves the hassle of trying to lie our way into warranty protection, or the expense of just buying a new phone.
A friend of mine has repaired his phone several times…he even rode is bike over the thing, but somehow brought it back to life. Check out Jim Rees’ web page devoted to repair of his cell phone. If Jim can do it, we can too.
And then there’s this article from Lance Ulanoff who gives tips on how to repair things. Read the article and laugh, because most of the time Lance is fixing broken items in under 5 minutes. Is the Â“brokenÂ” cell phone in your drawer really beyond repair?
We can create an infrastructure for repairing cell phones, we just have to invite a few hundred DIY cell phone repair techs from China to work over here for a few years. They could open kiosks at malls, Â“Cell Phone Repair While U WaitÂ”. Not quite as slick as the new iPhone, but a heck of a lot cheaper.
Many optical technologies such as camera lenses, solar cells and light emitting diodes depend in part on light being efficiently transmitted through a medium. Reflections are are a waste of that precious light.
Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), in Troy, NY, and semiconductor maker Crystal IS, in Green Island, NY, have developed a new type of nanostructured coating that can virtually eliminate reflections, potentially leading to dramatic improvements in optical devices.
The researchers showed that they can prevent almost all reflection by "growing" nanoscale rods projected at specific angles from a surface. The material stops reflections from nearly all the colors of the visible spectrum, as well as some infrared light. As a result the total reflection is 10 times less than it is with current coatings.
Applied to a solar cell, the new coating would increase the efficiency by a few percentage points. LEDs, already one of the most efficient ways to produce light, could also become much more efficient. A remarkable 40 percent improvement could be seen in LEDs, where a large amount of light generated by a semiconductor is typically trapped inside the device by reflections.
Via: Technology Review
Researchers at MIT led by Prof. Marin Soljacic have accomplished what Nikola Tesla envisioned over a century ago – the efficient wireless transmission of electricity. Dubbed ‘WiTricity’ (for Wireless Elecricity) by its inventors, it is the first wireless transmission of power to improve on the efficiency of radiant electromagnetic devices, which send energy indiscriminately in every direction, while not requiring direct line-of-sight like lasers.
WiTricity works on the principle of magnetic coupled resonance. The MIT team built matching copper coils to precise specifications, so that when power was applied to one coil, it produces a magnetic frequency – in the MHz range, since you wanted to know – which causes the other coil to vibrate up to 7ft (over 2 meters) away. Meanwhile, other elctromagnetic fields, such as those surrounding computers, cell phones, and human beings, remain largely unaffected.
The scientists were able to light up a 60-watt bulb that had "no physical connection" with the power-generating appliance. "It was quite exciting," Soljacic said. The process is "very reproducible," he added. "We can just go to the lab and do it whenever we want."
Aside from the implications in clutter management (who wouldn’t want to get rid of that tangle of wires behind the desk? Ugh!) there’s a green component, too – imagine a world without the need for batteries and their weight, inefficiency, short life span and toxic chemicals. Current battery technologies are around 80-90% efficient at best, losing energy through heat and self-discharge; WiTricity is currently capable of about half that, but for a proof of concept that’s pretty darn good. The group envisions a product which could supplant batteries in cell phones, Roombas, laptops, and other household items which require frequent charging.
via Linux Insider and MIT News Office
Making a short detour from our everyday-car spy images, we discovered this scoop photo on the movie website, Latino Review. According to the author, Joker will use the purple-colored 30â€™s pick-up truck in the sequel of Batman Begins, â€œThe Dark Knightâ€ which is due for release in July 2008. True or not, the pick-up looks so out of place and messed up that we couldn’t imagine anyone else driving it but Joker.
Via: Latino Review